The following essay by Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory, appeared in USA Today on February 12, 1987.
If we ever hope to rid the world of the political AIDS of our time, terrorism, the rule must be clear: One does not deal with terrorists; one does not bargain with terrorists; one kills terrorists.
And if that rules is too much for the United States to stomach, let it resign itself not only to the constant threat of kidnapping of Americans in the Third World, but worse, bombs in U.S. department stores, and other public places.
One of the great problems with Americans is that – being a decent people – they assume that everyone else is equally decent. They assume that everyone else is equally decent.
They assume that, all humans being equal, all cultures are therefore similar in concepts and values. But that is simply not so. And the Middle East is just not the Middle West.
The Middle East and the Moslem-Arab world possess their own unique cultures and values that in so many cases are at variance with those of the West. Human rights – especially those of non-Moslems or non- Arabs – simply do not have the same absolute value that they do in the West.
Above all, it is not decency or goodness of gentleness that impresses the Middle East, but strength. Because of this, the U.S. is looked on as a paper tiger – with all the accompanying contempt. President Reagan’s constant flexing of muscle, with absolutely no reaction to the murder of U.S. Marines and the kidnapping of U.S. citizens, has created for him an image of one who speaks loudly and carries a small twig.
That is the heart of the problem. The answer? Never, ever deal with terrorists. Hunt them down and, more important, mercilessly punish those states and groups that fund, arm, support, or simply allow their territories to be used by the terrorists with impunity.
It is abundantly clear that Syria wished to, terrorists would be deprived of huge areas of haven in Lebanon. But why should Syria want to? Or Iran? They’re happily enjoying Western agony without suffering one bit. And that is the key: Make them suffer.
Terror in Syrian and Iranian cities will soon enough convince those two unworthy states that it is unhealthy to support terrorism. And if towns and villages that support terrorists in Lebanon are mercilessly dealt with, they, too, will soon enough turn on them.
The question is whether the United States has the stomach to defeat terror or whether Americans will sink into what the Rabbis of the Talmud call “the mercy of fools.” When one refrains from terror against terrorists, he is not better than they. He will be deader, and there is nothing moral of ethical about that.
The choice is clear and once again, the Rabbis put it well: “If one comes to slay you, slay him first.” (Brachot, 58 )